August 5, 2021
By Adam Ruffner
3. Montreal Royal
The Royal are set for their first back-to-back slate of 2021 this upcoming weekend, hosting Toronto on Saturday before playing at Ottawa on Sunday. Montreal has historically been tough on Toronto, and the Royal won their last matchup in Montreal in Week 12 of 2019. Kevin Quinlan had a career-high 12 assists in that game, and could see similar production numbers this weekend as he begins to find his rhythm with his throws.
2. Toronto Rush
The Rush have always been a franchise that has prided itself on internal player development, and amidst the Rush surrendering 27 goals against Ottawa, second-year Toronto defender Jason Lam had himself a game. Lam jumped passing routes for layout blocks, hounded Ottawa handlers in reset space, and was one of the lone spark-plugs for an overwhelmed Toronto D-line. He finished his season debut with a team-high three blocks—half of Toronto’s team total against the Outlaws—and already surpassed the eight-game total from his 2019 rookie season.
1. Ottawa Outlaws
The Outlaws had a historically good offensive weekend in their 2021 season debut two weeks ago, averaging nearly 27 goals per game while converting 80 percent of their offensive holds in their first two games. Now the question is: Can they sustain that torrid pace? The answer is: Maybe! Nick Boucher’s 1200-yard opener against Toronto was surely a bit outsized, but his 500-yard follow up against Montreal seems well in line with his abilities. And the downfield receiving combo of David Colic and Alec Arsenault is no joke. The two combined for 19 goals and over 1200 receiving yards in Ottawa’s first two games, and love to play an uptempo style of offense.
2021 AUDL SEASON
19. Detroit Mechanix
The Mechanix held a slim one-goal lead at halftime last weekend at home against a reeling Madison team in the second game of a back-to-back. But a grim 9-2 third quarter by the Radicals vanquished Detroit’s hopes of ending their losing streak. Now just three games away from their third consecutive winless season—and fifth as a franchise—Detroit should continue to explore their deep attack on offense; rookie Jake Kenniv exploded for eight goals and 337 receiving yards against the Radicals, and was a big reason why the team held a halftime lead.
18. Tampa Bay Cannons
Even though Tampa Bay finished with just 18 goals against New York, they had one of their more efficient offensive performances of the season, completing 7-of-10 hucks while also converting 14-of-16 red zone possessions; the Cannons showed a lot of balance in their attack against a good Empire defense. Andrew Roney and Bobby Ley continue to be the feature pieces of the O-line, but Eric Sjostrom, Tannon Hedges, and Unmil Patel have emerged as good-to-great options with and without the disc, giving Tampa Bay a versatile lineup when at full strength.
17. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds went 0-2 on their tough back-to-back in Raleigh and Atlanta, but they played some of their best ultimate of the season in both matchups. Max Sheppard and Thomas Edmonds remain one of the best playmaking batteries in the league, while CJ Colicchio and rookie Connor Newell are finding a rhythm spacing off of them. Pittsburgh’s offense looked downright comfortable moving the disc against the normally imposing Atlanta zone defense; the 22 goals the T-birds scored against the Hustle is the most Atlanta has allowed in 2021.
16. Indianapolis AlleyCats
It’s been a season or two since the moniker fit, but the Cardiac ‘Cats are alive and well again after another nail-biting one goal loss on the road, this time to Minnesota. Veteran defender Nick Hutton had a relatively quiet 2021 campaign until Saturday night’s breakthrough one-assist, three-block performance. It is not reflected in the win column, but Indianapolis has been a tough out in nearly every game this season after experiencing heavy turnover from their 2019 Central Division champions roster. Indy has just one game left on their schedule at home versus the Wind Chill, and could get revenge. But 2021 will conclude with just the second losing season in the franchise’s ten-year tenure.
15. San Jose Spiders
It was barely three weeks ago that the Spiders were 2-2 and looking feisty in their matchup with Dallas. But now four straight losses later—San Jose was 0-2 during their Week 9 road trip, and finished the weekend with just 29 goals—and there’s a definitive gap between this young Spiders roster and the top end of the West. San Jose loves the deep ball—they average the second fewest completions of any team in the league at 207 per game—but it’s not producing results. The Spiders have the fourth worst offensive efficiency in the AUDL, and are scoring the sixth fewest goals (19 per game).
14. Seattle Cascades
The Cascades were neck-and-neck with the Growlers until the final buzzer in Week 9 as their game-tying pass was swatted away in the end zone; Seattle dropped their second roadie of the weekend the next day in Los Angeles, too. And for as wild as the West Division seemed at the beginning of July, the past few weeks have settled things back into a more traditional order. 20-year-old receiver Jack Brown is really starting to emerge as a consistent target for Seattle’s offense, scoring six goals and averaging 151 yards receiving per game in his last four appearances; Brown had 313 receiving yards against a good San Diego matchup defense, continually finding space downfield.
13. Philadelphia Phoenix
Philly didn’t score more than four goals in any quarter of their 22-12 loss at DC, and are now all but mathematically eliminated from postseason contention for the seventh straight season. The Phoenix have dropped six of their last seven, and strangely for its personnel, the offense seems to be the culprit. Despite being league-average in turnovers and team completion rating, Philly is still scoring the fourth fewest goals this season in the AUDL. Greg Martin is leading the league in goals (38), yes, but he’s in a bit of a silo; Martin and Sean Mott are the only Philly players with double digit goals in 2021.
12. Madison Radicals
The Radicals battled hard through three quarters at home to keep their 2021 playoff hopes afloat, but Chicago blew them away down the stretch with a series of big play efforts from the Union stars. Madison went on the road the next day in Detroit to collect their league-leading 99th win as a franchise, with one away game left against Minnesota to be the first team to join the century club. This will all but surely be the second straight season Madison misses the playoffs, something that still seems odd to type. But getting victory number 100 to close out a nonetheless inspiring 2021 campaign would be bittersweet.
11. Los Angeles Aviators
Winners of three in a row, the Aviators have been taking care of business against familiar West Division foes. The move to transition Calvin Brown and KJ Koo into D-line playmakers has made LA look competitive off the turn, and allows Brown full clearance to punish opponents with his deep throws—his deep backhand huck is quickly emerging as one of the best in the game. Sean McDougall is playing slightly less efficiently than in previous seasons, but his impact is maybe stronger than ever. He leads the team in goals (31) and blocks (13), and is second in assists (19) while spotting time on both offensive and defensive rotations.
10. Boston Glory
Boston has an incredible opportunity in tomorrow night’s “Friday Night Ultimate” matchup to turn their lukewarm inaugural season into something much more boisterous with a win over the surging Flyers. Glory matched up favorably with Raleigh in Week 3, even though the Flyers came away with the 27-24 win. Ben Sadok and Tanner Halkyard combined for over 1000 yards in the first meeting, and will need to have similar performances if Boston wants to blow up the current playoff picture in the Atlantic.
9. Minnesota Wind Chill
Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this Minnesota team, particularly its talented-but-underperforming offense. Two weeks ago, the Wind Chill system looked similar to the Breeze, built around four high volume, highly accurate throwers, and made dangerous by a capable stable of downfield receivers; both DC and Minnesota average 21.6 goals per game, and they are one and two in team completions per game. But after back-to-back, uh, “bedwetters” at home—Minnesota has turned the disc over 48 times in their last two games—the Wind Chill are marching firmly backward towards the postseason despite their 7-2 record. The Minnesota defense, though, now has seven games in 2021 in which they’ve allowed 20 or fewer goals.
8. Austin Sol
After Week 8’s tough home loss to San Diego, the Sol got back on track with their most convincing win of the season, defeating San Jose 25-15. Now they face their most important game in franchise history: A Week 10 showdown at home against Dallas to determine who will claim the second and final playoff spot in the West. Evan Swiatek has 13 goals in Austin’s three meetings with Dallas in 2021, and will need to set the tone for the Sol offense on Saturday night.
7. Dallas Roughnecks
The Roughnecks continue to win despite their ugly performances, claiming four of their past five to improve to 7-4. Historically one of the more potent lineups in the league, the Dallas offense has been decidedly mediocre in 2021, coming in around the middle of the pack in both scoring and offensive efficiency. The Roughnecks defense has been the buoy for this squad all season long. Ben Lewis is enjoying his best year as a pro, leading the team in goals (26), blocks (16), and points played (198). If Dalton Smith’s return to the lineup or something else can spark some scoring, this Roughnecks squad could still be dangerous come the postseason. That is: If they win against the Sol on Saturday, which is far from a given at this point.
6. San Diego Growlers
For the second straight game at home, it took a Steven Milardovich block in the final minute of regulation to preserve the win. The Growlers are certainly battle tested—all but one of San Diego’s games has been decided by four goals or fewer—and have proven their ability to close out tight games. But San Diego’s offense is nowhere near the level of production of the unit that made the 2019 semifinals, despite a supposed upgrade in talent over that roster heading into the 2021 season. Now they sign Jonathan Nethercutt ostensibly for one game, which is a wildly thrilling prospect on its own. But will it make a difference for this inconsistent Growlers offense, or will it simply give their rivals from LA another reason to pull off the upset in Week 10?
5. Raleigh Flyers
With their 20-17 home win over Pittsburgh, the Flyers completed the six-game soft spot in their schedule with a 6-0 record, vaulting into a virtual tie* for second with DC in the Atlantic. The handler backfield has been productive all season for the Flyers, but what is really elevating Raleigh’s play is the performance of their downfield offensive playmakers. Henry Fisher, Allan Laviolette, and Anders Juengst have looked borderline unstoppable over the last month; all three can beat you with their throws or as receivers, and their games complement each other perfectly in the Flyers offense. Laviolette is playing some of the best ultimate of his pro career, finishing their Week 9 win with 11 total scores and 550-plus yards of offense on fewer than 20 completions.
*DC is currently 1-0 vs RAL and would win a head-to-head tiebreaker if the playoffs started today
4. Chicago Union
Friday night’s road win in Madison was their most impressive of the season, and the closest this Union team has come to representing their championship aspirations as set forth at the beginning of the 2021 season. Pawel Janas is probably the MVP frontrunner after his five-assist, 562-yard performance against a normally stifling Radicals defense; Janas had two backbreaking hucks to Ross Barker in the middle of a tight game that allowed Chicago to hold serve and keep Madison’s buzzing home crowd at bay. But the talent of this Union team is on defense. Peter Graffy was a visible difference maker leading the Chicago counterattack, and Von Alanguilan’s shot-out-of-a-cannon poach block late in the third quarter effectively ushered in the Union’s game-winning run.
3. New York Empire
Without a few starters on offense, the Empire took care of business 25-18 on the road in Tampa Bay, with big men Ben Jagt and John Lithio dictating much of the action. Now New York must deal with a white-hot Raleigh team this Saturday in a “Game Of The Week” rematch of their classic 2019 tussle. Already a good defender heading into the season, Marques Brownlee has visibly improved in single coverage in 2021, and has six blocks in five appearances. He went down with an injury midway through the second quarter of the 2019 tilt, and could be a big difference maker this weekend.
2. DC Breeze
The DC defense played lights out against Philly in Week 9, generating 13 blocks and converting eight break scores in the game. AJ Merriman continues to deserve MVP buzz for his play, but he’s not the only playmaker on this Breeze D-line. Rhys Bergeron is really coming into his own as a matchup defender, and is capable of taking WR1 level opponents in single coverage. Likewise, Ben Green is making a play on seemingly every disc thrown in his vicinity, even if he doesn’t get the block. The Breeze remain hungry possession to possession, and their consistent four-quarter pressure is often too much for opponents.
1. Atlanta Hustle
The Hustle scored a season-high 27 in their wire-to-wire home win versus Pittsburgh to clinch their first playoff spot since 2016. On a team level, it was Atlanta’s most efficient game of the season; their lowest conversion number on the evening was the 77 percent of breaks they converted. Individually, Austin Taylor had the best game of his career, finishing with nine assists on 46-of-47 throws and racking up 956 yards of total offense, the second highest single game total of the season. Taylor’s pace and verve with the disc has the Hustle attack on a different level.
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